Jonathan Merchant intern

Jonathan Kamehanaokala Merchant was born in Seattle and raised in Maui, Hawai‘i.  He attended both Kamehameha Schools Maui and Seabury Hall before moving to Olympia, Washington, halfway through his sophomore year of high school, and graduated from Olympia High School.  He is currently pursuing a double major in computer science and history at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.  In his free time, Jonathan enjoys playing soccer, reading, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family.  

Home Island: Maui

High School: Kamehameha Schools Maui and Seabury Hall

Institution when accepted: Carleton College

Converting Subaru’s C-Based hskymon Application to a Python-Based SPOT Application

Project Site: Subaru Telescope, Hilo, HI

Mentors: Russell Kackley & Eric Jeschke

Project Abstract:

As an integral part of the international astronomical community, the Subaru Telescope is critical for astronomers and researchers to observe the universe.  To do so, these astronomers and researchers often use custom-built software applications to locate their targets, monitor current weather conditions, and predict the optimal time period for object observation.  The hskymon application combines all three of these tools into a comprehensive user-interface.  However, in recent years, the maintenance of hskymon has been difficult and unable to keep up with recurring bugs and crashes.  In order to remedy this problem, we are developing a new user interface, termed “Subaru Planning and Observation Tools” (SPOT), that will be written in Python and use Ginga plugins.  The aim of this new application is to allow for easier continued maintenance and development by the Subaru Software Division team as compared to hskymon.  This project continues the process of building the SPOT application by drawing comparisons to the older hskymon application.  In particular, we use numerous Python modules along with the Ginga toolkit in order to display scientific data for the application’s user, while also providing a simple and clean user-interface.  Writing this new application will also allow for continued maintenance and development by the Subaru Software Division team in the future, making the SPOT application an integral part of astronomical research.  Additionally, SPOT is being created in a way that allows it to be used with other observatories, allowing for increased usability among the scientific community.